Published by FINISHING LINE PRESS
in September 2018,
A WOMAN OF A CERTAIN AGE
Interview with the Author by Tessa Wild
( THE WRITER'S CENTER )
October 24, 2018
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Mary K. O’Melveny’s probing and evocative collection takes us on a journey through such experiences of “women of a certain age” as aging, menopause, illness, loss, and social activism. The personae in the poems face life’s diminishments with verve, vitality and humor. Her multilayered narrative poems startle in their breadth, the events framed by larger environmental happenings and cosmic realities that put the single life in perspective. For example, in “Hot Flashes,” the imagery startles; hot flashes are contrasted with dreams of “territorial erasures” as “body heat creates new climate zones.” In “This is our Life,” the sense of mortality is coupled with “a deep breath of that/thin air/into/which they all disappeared./And lungs clear, heart full, speak/Of love.” Or in “January Murmurations, “ the collective spirit of women during the 2017 women’s march is depicted through the conceit of murmurations. In each poem, the layering leads to startling metaphoric conceits and revelations. In the title poem of the volume, for example, “I am a Woman of a Certain Age,” the journey ends in a declaration of hope: “I have no desire for radio static. / I am a woman of a certain age.”
—Jan Zlotnik Schmidt, Author of We Speak in Tongues and She Had This Memory
Insightful and militant, innovative and audacious, A Woman of a Certain Age is the book to reach for in times of resistance, regrouping, and rebellion. Now more than ever it is time for poetry with a political message, poetry that uses music and metaphors to bring forth a “bibliography of secrets,” to reveal “a yard sale of our lives,” to outline the risks we need to take. These are the poems to read at women’s marches: in “A January Murmuration,” Mary O’Melveny reminds women that “Rage and hope have readied us for transformation./ Today we are flying at the edges of revolution” (24).
—Lucia Cherciu, author of Train Ride to Bucharest
Mary K O’Melveny declares I want to be seen. Beginning with a young store clerk who doesn’t see a vital woman as he off-handedly addresses her as Ma’m to the many practitioners of the healing arts who minister to the body, but not the woman who inhabits the body, this woman of a certain age who insists on being seen, and heard. These personal and intimate poems subtly make note of the political and historical forces that frame our lives. As the body ages, memory, beauty and love take center stage. This woman of a certain age remembers kindness and the innocence of placing flowers in gun barrels.
—Kate Hymes, Director of Wallkill Valley Writers and the author of the poetry chapbook True Grain (2017). She serves on the Board of the international arts organization, Amherst Writers and Artists